Polar Bear Interactions With Humans Are Likely to Increase, Researchers Say

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Polar bear populations are shrinking as climate change concerns continue. Additionally, these climate issues are very likely to lead to increased interactions between these giant bears and humans. Now scientists are beginning to use cutting-edge technology to address both of these very connected issues.

Scientists Address Climate Change Consequences As Polar Bear Habitats Continue To Face Threats

According to reports scientists specializing in the arctic areas, particularly on polar bears, are anticipating more unintended climate change effects. These effects can pose threats to both the arctic animals and the humans who live in even wide proximity to the arctic bears. The experts are already coming up with technology that could help to keep both populations safe.

Canada’s Churchill, Manitoba sits along Hudson Bay. This unique area is often referred to as the polar bear capital of the world. The bears that reside in this area are often dubbed the world’s most studied subpopulation. This is due simply to their accessibility notes Steven Armstrup who serves as a chief scientist at Polar Bear International.

Here, Armstrup notes, scientists have the opportunity to gather information about the polar bears from land rather than following the arctic mammals into the sea. An option that is logistically a “much more difficult task,” the expert notes.

The Arctic Bears Walk Along The Hudson Bay, Waiting For The Ice To Freeze For Migration

This proximity to the “accessible arctic” leads to some very rare moments when a polar bear wanders into town. In fact, the Hudson Bay area serves as a sort of “polar bear highway” researchers note. The bears take this route as they wait for the water to freeze for their annual migration. However, this area has yet to freeze, the experts note. Making the animals desperate for food.

“All around Hudson Bay, there’s people that have lived here for a long, long time,” Armstrup relates. “And the more time that bears spend on land, the more chance they have to interact with people.”

Armstrup adds that the polar bears are feeling warmer than they are comfortable with…and they are very hungry. This could lead to very negative polar bear-human interactions, the expert notes.

To help protect both bears and the people of the area, the researchers are testing various remote early warning systems. These are designed to detect polar bears who are wandering into town.

“The idea is that they could look out 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through whatever is happening in the air for like snow, whatever happening for daylight, whether it’s dark or light, and kind of keep a watch over the community,” a release explains. The systems would detect movement further out, giving the residents adequate time to decide how to respond to the approaching bear.